In the US, over the past 10 years, the number of official priest exorcists has more than quadrupled from 12 to 50.
But for two of America’s most active exorcists – Father Gary Thomas, whose training in Rome was chronicled in Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, and Father Vincent Lampert, whose work was depicted on Paranormal Witness – it is an ongoing struggle to keep up with the demand.
Unusual perceptual phenomena, including visual and auditory hallucinations, have been associated with spiritual and religious experiences since ancient times. Since hallucinations associated with major psychiatric disorders not infrequently include spiritual and/or religious content, this has led psychiatrists to take a reductionist approach that treats all such anomalous experiences as pathology and likely to be indicative of mental illness. However, research shows that many people who experience anomalous perception should not be diagnosed as mentally ill and are not in need of mental health services. For some, such experiences serve to enrich and enhance their sense of life purpose.
This day conference will bring together recent scientific research on hallucinations with spiritual and religious perspectives. Mental health professionals need to be aware of alternative frameworks for making sense of anomalous perceptual experiences, with important implications for both clinical practice and the spiritual life.
The SPR’s 40th International Annual conference will be held at the University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS2 9JT, U.K. between Friday 2 and Sunday 4 September 2016. The University Leeds is in the centre of the city. As always, our very full conference programme will address a broad range of topics, covering both spontaneous cases and laboratory research. In addition to the talks, conferences are a marvelous opportunity to network and share views, and there will be time to socialise over lunch and the regular breaks, not to mention during the President’s drinks reception on Friday evening and Saturday’s conference banquet. Speakers have come from all over the UK, as well as from Europe and the United States, making it truly an international event. This year’s conference promises to be full of interest, as ever, and the new chairman of our Conference Programme Committee will add a fresh take on a tried and tested formula. Those who attend, whether this is their first conference or their fortieth, can be sure of having both an informative and a very enjoyable time. We look forward to seeing you in Leeds!
An interdisciplinary conference organized by The Mind and the Other Research Project and by The Finnish Anthropological Society.
Helsinki, Finland (The House of Science and Letters), September 20-22, 2016
I shall be speaking at this conference on the topic of Spirit Release Therapy Methods of Discernment.
Uncanny experiences, the search for the inexplicable, or the belief in supernatural beings or universal energies trigger disputes about at least ontology, rationality, sanity, and the limits of the mind. Modern Western society is for the most part characterized by principles such as rationality and efficiency. Quoting Max Weber, these ideas comprise the leading forces of modern society and science. However, what several scholars in religious studies currently call post-secularism has given rise to new spiritual tendencies and movements in society. These post-secular tendencies have brought about something that several authors term ‘re-enchantment’: new spirituality and uncanny experiences are perhaps more than ever a part of Western everyday life. Some scholars define the situation as a crisis of rationality, whereas others again accentuate the recurrent nature of historical phenomena, pointing to recurring waves of thought stretching from the Ancient past to the present. Still others claim that in practice the rational and the uncanny are intertwined in a new mode. In historical and ethnographic explorations the uncanny can be understood, not as a boundary between rational and its “outside”, but as an element of connection and compromise between them practiced by ordinary people and practices of institutions, such as modern medicine and science.